Ixtapa Don’t Stopa

If your idea of a perfect day is basking in the warm sun on a beach in Mexico playing volleyball with a bunch of awesome people then you belong on a South of the Border Volleyball Vacation. I just got back from spending nine pretty awesome days down in Ixtapa, Mexico with 240 SOB-ers on my second trip with this organization. My first one was in Puerto Vallarta circa 2013 and I’ve had a hard time fitting in another one since then until the FIVB tournament in Fort Lauderdale (Feb. 4-10) got cancelled and my schedule unexpectedly opened up! 

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I immediately reached out to SOB’s fearless leader Tom Davenport to see if he had room for me. Luckily he did, but once I was in I got a little nervous. The Puerto Vallarta trip is known for being a little more mellow and a lot less people than Ixtapa, and don’t get it twisted, we Pros are working while we are down there even if it is one of the coolest jobs you can land. I was envisioning it being really hectic trying to get around to everyone, I definitely wasn’t sure I’d be able to remember anyones names, and most importantly, how many tequila shots was I going to have to take?! But I managed to stay in the moment, put myself out there, just accept that I’d be asking for people’s names over and over, gave most of my shots to Troy and Miles 😉 and in the end everything ran really smoothly and I genuinely had a great time.

The new pros to Ixtapa flew down Friday so we could get the lay of the land. New to this particular trip were myself, Sean Rosenthal, Kerri Schuh, Geena Urango, and Troy Field. We checked in to The Park Royal Hotel, which I loved immediately. It’s airy and clean, my room had a gorgeous view, and it’s right on the beach with a picturesque pool. After we threw on our bathing suits we headed out to the beach for a welcome drink and a few rounds of four on four fun volley, then it was back to the room to clean up before heading to dinner. The restaurant Tom took us to was nestled in the hills of Zihuatanejo with an unforgettable view and food that matched. It was a great night with the crew before all the guests arrived the following day. The veteran Ixtapa pros that also joined us Saturday were Caitlin Ledoux, Janelle and Billy Allen, Ty Loomis, Ty Tramblie, Kelley Larsen, and Miles Evans, a pretty solid group of people to spend a week+ with in Mexico!

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The pros have a few specific responsibilities while we’re down there; mainly playing with the guests in the morning and afternoon for a few hours, leading clinics every day, with a little coaching sprinkled throughout as well. Some of my favorite moments on the trip were playing with the SOBers during the Pro Games each day. All the guests are allowed to sign up for one thirty minute session with a pro and we either play a couple of games or they can ask for something else like a hitting lesson, etc. There’s another pro and guest on the other side of the net, so really you get to play with two pros at once! I had a lot of fun getting out there and playing with everyone who signed up for my games and hopefully I was able to give them a few tips they could take home. I also had a blast playing a few pick up games in my spare time. This really allowed me to meet and get to know some of the people on the trip, which I was thankful for, no better way to break the ice with someone than to play a sport with them! 

Another huge highlight of the trip was the boat cruise that all the new pros got to go on with the first eighty guests that signed up. We rented a huge catamaran to meander the coast of Zihuatanejo, and once we reached our “destination” we anchored in a cove, took turns doing backflips off the side of the boat, and just floated around on life jackets or, in my case, a toddler zebra floatie that I bring with me everywhere there is going to be water. At the end of the cruise we had the opportunity to do something called spinnakering where the guys on the boat attach a harness to the huge sail and use the wind to lift the passenger way up into the air. I’ve been parasailing before, but this was way more fun!

The trip down to Ixtapa is known for having a pretty healthy nightlife, there is something to do every night if you so choose, but I was especially excited about theme night. This year it was Naughty or Nice and I decided to go as Rainbow Brite, which is now my new favorite costume! One of the guests even coincidentally brought some blow up unicorn drink holders, of which she gave me one, to be Rainbow’s unicorn, Starlite! Seeing what everyone decided to dress up as was equal parts entertaining and shocking, and it was a blast dancing the night away at the Sexy Bar (the hotel’s beachside club).

I also really enjoyed going out to dinner every night with different groups of people and got to know a lot more of the guests this way. (Thank you to everyone who extended the invite!) I now feel like I’m going to have a mini reunion at each AVP tournament this summer and I can’t wait!

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By the end of the trip, I had enough chips and guac to last the rest of the year, secured a base tan that no one should have in January, and made some connections that I hope will last a really long time. On a side note, I was stoked it was too hot to do anything in the middle of the day which allowed me to get in a siesta to catch up on sleep each day and then hit the gym before our afternoon session, I actually came back from Mexico in better shape than when I left! I did a ton of yoga and my body held up really well throughout the nine days of going pretty non-stop down there.

I really didn’t know how the week was going to go, but I can’t overstate how much fun I ended up having. I can only imagine how rad it would be for the volleyball weekend warrior to come down and play in the huge week-long ‘King of the Court’ tournament, and/or give the co-ed tournament a go, while relaxing in the ocean side lounge chairs with a pina colada in between matches. If it seems like it’s something up your alley, cruise on over to the SOB website for all the info! www.sobvolleyballvacations.com

Tom Davenport deserves lots of kudos for making these trips happen. The volleyball community is special, it’s full of fun-loving, inclusive people and to get a lot of them together and take them down to Mexico for a week in the middle of winter is simply a perfect vacation. And it also creates an opportunity for us pros to make a little off season money, which all of us appreciate tremendously. Thank you Tom! I can’t wait for my next SOB Volleyball Vacation!

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